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A Stripper Confronts the 8 Most Egregious Myths of Her Trade

A Stripper Confronts the 8 Most Egregious Myths of Her Trade: Hair and Makeup by Emma Parkes

Hair and Makeup by Emma Parkes

Playboy.com is proud to introduce ‘The Tasteful Nude,’ a new series in which stripper, comedian and writer Kasey Koop gives us an immersive, unvarnished and often hilarious look at life onstage and backstage in L.A.’s strip club scene. Check back every Thursday afternoon for more.

Before I started stripping one year ago, my perception of that world was dreary. Having only been inside a strip club once, when a dude dragged me in to go down on me in the bathroom, strip clubs left a bad taste in my (and likely his) mouth. But after months of being so broke that jumping in front of a moving vehicle for the insurance money seemed like a viable option, I had finally worked up the nerve to audition, despite being warned that the dancers at the club I was auditioning for had “bullet wounds in their ass.” Strip clubs seemed dangerous; then again, if badass women like Amber Rose, Courtney Love and Jenna Jameson had taken a spin around the brass pole, what did I have to lose?

Nearly a year later, the only bullets I’ve dodged are customers asking me out. Strippers and clubs vary, but I’ve found the whole industry to be wrought with misconceptions. The toughest part of stripping is simply dealing with the stigma, so what better way to deal with that stigma than by peeling away some layers of bullshit and exposing stripper myths for what they really are?

Let’s address them one by one, shall we?


MYTH #1: WE HAVE DADDY ISSUES
This is one of the most pervasive stripper myths. As Bridget Phetasy has pointed out elsewhere on this site, people love to assume that a woman’s exhibitionism stems from complicated feelings toward their fathers—that we show off our bodies because we need the validation of men like we need air. I take offense to this one in particular because I actually have mommy issues. My dad cooked all our meals, was kind, supportive and so respectful that I never witnessed him hit on a woman who was not my mother. The only problem I have is trying to find a man who can live up to that. This is not to say there are no strippers who had absentee fathers, but can’t the same be said of any career? Artists like Kanye West and Tyler, the Creator rap about not having their dads around and no one chides them for having daddy issues. And how come dudes can broadcast their MILF fetishes without shame when those are clearly the result of having mommy issues?

MYTH #2: WE ARE CATTY
One of the most frequent questions we get asked by men is, “Which of these girls do you hate?” Guys love the idea of women hating women because it supports their power structure: If they can keep us clawing at each other, their thrones remain claw-mark-free. I love my co-workers and we are very close. (Consider that our team-building includes simulating threesomes during double-lap dances.) When a squabble does arise between two girls, it quickly gets resolved with a thrown drink or scream-fight, which is a lot more honest than the passive-aggressive emails my office-dwelling friends deal with. The only women we aren’t so keen on are the judgmental girlfriends who begrudgingly come to the strip club with their men. Sometimes they go so far as to mark their territory by crawling on top of their beau to make out with him. Don’t worry, ladies. None of us are interested in a guy who thinks date night is bringing his girlfriend to a strip club.

MYTH #3: WE ARE PARTY GIRLS
Strippers aren’t party girls so much as we are actors playing the role of party girls. Sure, we know how to have a good time, but getting plastered every night is unsustainable. While many dancers can put back more booze than a short guy pledging a fraternity, the girls who are heavy partiers burn out quickly and get fired. Before I started stripping, I drank so much that my sweat could have passed as bottom-shelf whiskey. I got sober within a few months of dancing. I used to think doing drugs was my only route to freedom, but dancing in front of strangers, sober, in my underwear, has been the most freeing experience of my life. There is no high quite like getting money thrown at you.

MYTH #4: WE ARE WHORES
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a proud slut. Prior to sex work, I was rubbing on dudes free of charge. Suffice to say, I once went home with a white guy who had kanji tattooed on his hip that translated to “Lucky You.” I’ve even ended up at the condo of a man who lived on the Vegas Strip, realizing, after he fed me pills from his mouth like a mama bird, that only a sociopath could live on the Strip. Once I started dancing, I stopped sleeping around because I could express my sexuality through dance. Having a non-penetrative outlet for my desires freed me from the vicious cycle of empty one-night stands. Strippers are prudes, of course; at any given moment, the locker room conversation at work is somewhere between how much we love eating ass and the biggest cock we’ve ever taken. We may be exceptionally comfortable with our sexuality, but we aren’t trying to take work home with us.

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MYTH #5: WE ARE STUPID
This is the toughest fallacy to deal with. Having a “savior” mentality seems to be the only way some men can justify spending money on lap dances. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been condescendingly told, “You’re too good to be doing this,” I wouldn’t have to strip anymore. Guys usually ask if I’m dancing to put myself through school because, good Samaritans that they are, they want to help me get an education that puts me in an office job (AKA a job that others take pole-dance classes to free themselves from). I swiftly inform them that I graduated college years ago, omitting the part about the full academic scholarship I was granted. Not that having an education means anything; anyone can SparkNotes their way through gen ed. courses, and a Bachelor’s Degree is as good as rolling paper in this economy. Besides, you have to be smart to hustle dudes out of every dollar they didn’t intend on spending.

MYTH #6: WE CAN’T MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS
Customers often inquire about how working in a strip club impacts my love life. The truth is, it doesn’t. I was single long before stripping, and I am still single. If anything, the job has provided me with a crash course in dating. Prior to working in a club, my idea of courting was grabbing just enough drinks to put up with the small talk that preceded sex. Stripping is essentially speed dating—sitting with each guy long enough to flirt him into buying lap dances. My job absolutely turns off potential partners who are prone to jealousy, but my strong personality and flirtatious nature have always scared guys away. I refuse to quit the first job that has made me happy to placate lovers who have generally caused me pain. A few of my co-strippers are, in fact, happily married, and others are in relationships because there are folks who understand that what we do is just a job. According to them, the key to assuaging jealousy is to keep one’s man out of the club. If we aren’t going to our spouse’s workplace to watch them earn their pay, there is no reason for them to visit ours.

MYTH #7: WE ARE DESPERATE
Quick disclaimer: I started dancing because I desperately needed to save up for a new car, but by no means was I shackled to the pole like a sex slave. There were other non-twerking options I could have explored that wouldn’t have afforded me as much freedom. My point is that not every stripper dances because they are throwing in the towel. Strippers are often seen as the somber subjects of a Weeknd song, making a last-ditch attempt at survival. This misconception doesn’t give credit to the hoards of accomplished pole artists who make their way into the club via pole dance classes. Let alone, those of us who were sick of working jobs where we had to answer phones. I don’t even answer my own phone! A handful of my co-workers have financial stability from other jobs and dance a couple nights of the week for the rush of being a brazen goddess.

MYTH #8: WE HATE OURSELVES
The most valuable gift stripping has afforded me is self-esteem. Stripping has instilled a level of fearlessness in me that enhances all areas of my life, including my stand-up comedy. It’s easier to beat stage fright actually being in your underwear than imagining the audience in theirs. I used to hate myself when I had “fat days,” but all “fat days” mean to me now is that I get more compliments on my butt. At work, I feel like the Prom Queen, except it’s the part after the dance where the heroine is dry-humping her date on a sofa. People ask if I feel degraded at work, but how could I? Fetching dresses for 14-year-olds preparing for Coachella is degrading. Apologizing to angry customers about the food they ordered wrong is degrading. Receiving nonstop verbal and fiscal adulation? That’s affirming—and is there really a more sincere compliment than a man creaming himself during a lap dance?


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